Richard Petty is called “The King” for a reason. He was the first NASCAR driver to win seven Cup Series championships. He won record 200 races, including the Daytona 500, record seven times. Although the greatness he achieved on the racetrack cannot be denied, the sport also caused him considerable pain.
On a recent episode of The hunt! With John Rich at Fox Business, the 84-year-old racing legend talked about the many accidents and injuries he suffered, including how he twice broke his neck. He also talked about the immense grief he endured when his grandson Adam tragically died during a racing accident in practice in New Hampshire in 2000. And he revealed how it was a simple gesture from a single fan that brought him out of the darkness.
Richard Petty’s grandson Adam dies in an accident
Richard Petty was born to race. His father Lee won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and also became a three-time champion. After all his success, Richard naturally passed on the race gene to his son Kyle, who had a modestly successful career as his own, winning eight times, including the 1987 Coca-Cola 600.
Kyle’s son Adam continued the family tradition when he started running the ARCA series in 1998 at the age of 18. The young Petty debuted with the Xfinity series in 1998 and ran several races before landing a full-time trip in 1999.
Tragically, his career and life ended before it even got started. Petty was rehearsing for a race in New Hampshire during the 2000 season when his car’s throttle stuck wide open and he slammed violently into the outer wall, killing him instantly. He was 19.
Richard Petty describes how a simple gesture from a fan lifted him out of a dark time after his grandson’s death
For Richard Petty, his son Kyle, and the rest of the family, that day in New Hampshire was a terrible reminder that the sport that had given them so much was still incredibly dangerous and could result in tragedy and incredible pain in an instant. .
During an episode of The hunt! With John Rich, Petty spoke honestly about his grandson’s accident and how it affected him.
“It was a real downturn,” Petty said. “I left. For a week I did not even enter the store and I just sat and pondered. A lady sent me a letter, and in the letter it said, ‘Do not question where God put a period.’ That is it. I do not know who the lady was. I do not know where she got the quote or anything. But for me, again, it lifted the world away from me. And I could then go back again, that’s how it should be, guys. Accept it and do the best you can for you and your family. ”
Kurt Busch used Adam Petty’s number in 2022
While Adam’s death was 20 years ago, his name and No. 45 he used made headlines last month. It happened in late August when 23XI Racing announced that Kurt Busch would drive the No. 45 car in 2022.
The announcement was important because no driver had used that number since 2008. Kyle Petty took it over for the rest of the 2000 Xfinity season and switched to it with the 2001-08 Cup Series. NASCAR exposed the Petty family when Denny Hamlin and 23XI asked to use the number.
“My first part of the concern was when NASCAR was like, ‘Yeah, that number has always just been put aside. No one has really touched it since Kyle and Adam, so you might want to have a conversation with him, ”Hamlin told NASCAR. “And I think, ‘Uh-oh, how’s that going to go?’ I must publicly thank Kyle more for his cooperation with us and real excitement for us to bring it back. I was worried because I knew he was sentimentally tied to this number. For him to allow us to come back, because in the end, he was the guy who could say no and shut it all down. High praise to him for allowing us. ”
While Richard Petty drives his own Cup Series team driving car No. 43, the 2022 season will no doubt be special for the Petty family, who see No. 45 return to the track after all these years.